Baptism Font - St Nicholas - Corfe, Somerset
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 50° 58.288 W 003° 05.677
30U E 493356 N 5646656
Quick Description: Norman baptism font in St Nicholas' church, Corfe.
Location: South West England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 8/2/2022 10:19:15 AM
Waymark Code: WM16H6C
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member GeoRams
Views: 0

Long Description:
Norman baptism font in St Nicholas' church, Corfe.

"Located at W end of nave, more or less level with the W pier of the S aisle and on its side of the central aisle. There is today a most satisfying space around it, giving it due prominence & allowing easy examination and appreciation.

The bowl is in white stone, and the pedestal (which appears modern) in hamstone or similar. The bowl has been very considerably worn and there is damage on the side now facing SW: a large chunk has been hacked off. In the same stone as the pedestal, the unmoulded plinth is massive. Between my two visits (the second on 17 March 2005), the previously roughly square became an octagon (guide marks for the cutting can be seen on the images).

The modern pedestal is in the form of a central column with four smaller shafts at the corners. There is no attempt to articulate or to make comfortable the junction between it and the bowl. The outer columns are defined top and bottom by simple rings. They have capitals square in plan which chamfer into unmoulded imposts. Their bases are of the conventional Attic pattern: two tori separated by a scotia. The central column has a bottom ring but no moulding at the top.

Unlike in the finely designed and executed genuinely Norman pedestal bottoms described elsewhere (notably the original Romanesque ones in Purbeck marble, e.g., at Brushford), there is no attempt to relate/integrate the bottom mouldings of the five columns. The lowermost rings of the corner columns merely cut into that of the central column. Also, the size of the Attic mouldings is not finely differentiated in proportion to the different circumferences of central/corner columns.

The mouldings at the top of the corner columns are unusual and not very comfortable: from bottom to top, a delicate torus, then a cushion resembling a squashed capital, lastly a square shallow block chamfered from the cushion.

The gently tapered bowl is animated by its decoration. In low relief, this depicts interlacing arches, underlined and set off by an utterly plain ring around the bottom of the bowl. Underneath the arcade & representing its plinth, originally continuous but now damaged in places, runs a simple ring. The squared shafts of the arcade are simple except for being chamfered on each edge. The simple bases look as if they are meant to represent mouldings of two tori. Capitals and imposts are also rough and rudimentary. To judge by extant detail on some of them, arches were defined by raised outside edges, the inner recess being decorated with beading. There are now 18 shafts remaining of the 21 I estimate to have been cut originally.

The otherwise uniform arcade design is startlingly interrupted (on the side now facing N) by a palmette at the top of one pier. The usual base is replaced by one more massive but in proportion with the heavier head; the shaft is similar to the others but is shorter, its top being swallowed by the bottom of the palmette which resembles a mouth. (Just as the bottom-most lobes resemble eyes and the five leaves above resemble a head: so that there are amusing analogies with the common Romanesque motif of a mask with a shaft in its mouth).

Around the top of the bowl, roughly adjacent to the arching and now interrupted by the very worn rim, there runs a cable-moulding. The lead lining extends part way across the rim, and there are remains of lock-fittings.
Dimensions
Depth of basin 0.32m
Ext. diameter of bowl at rim 0.69m
Height of bowl 0.46m
Int. diameter of bowl at rim 0.53m"

SOURCE - (visit link)
Relevant Website: [Web Link]

Approximate Age of Artefact: Not listed

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